How Smart is Your Website?

February 25, 2011 | by

This is a guest post by Nicolas. He is the owner and CTO of Specialty Answering Service. For guest blogging in Techlineinfo, go through the guidelines

If you are reading this and have a pulse, I’d be willing to bet you are a Google-er. You probably have used the search engine thousands of times looking for everything from the best answering service to how to get rid of eczema on your forearm. But have you ever used the advanced search feature? I occasionally use but by no means use it every day. However, even being a quasi frequent user, I am familiar (or so I thought) with the format of the advanced find search; search for all of these words, language, search within a site or domain, etc. But today I found a new piece of coolness within the advanced search interface – the “Reading Level” tool. In a nutshell, this tool answers the question “How dumb (or smart) is your website.”

Go ahead & give it a try. Go to Google and click on advanced search. The first option under “Need more tools?” is the “Reading level” box which allows searchers to filter their results based on the websites reading level. Here, you can show basic results, intermediate results, advanced results, or have Google annotate each result with the reading level of the site based on the aforementioned scale with labels under the displayed site title tag within the result page.

The first question anyone may have is how the heck can Google, having never read my sites content, put a grade on it? Well, like all of Google’s results this one is controlled by an algorithm specifically built to grade the sites. Think of the piece of programming like a teacher, only this teacher is so efficient that it can read through billions of content, slap a grade on it, and still have time to coach the tennis team and act as an adviser. Okay, maybe not those last two. So how is this possible? Interestingly enough, part of the algorithm was built on data collected from teachers that Google actually hired to read through random pieces of web content and “grade” them by interpreting their reading level. This in addition from taking data from Google Scholar (using those articles as a benchmark for the “Advanced” category), Google came up with a way to tell you how smart your website is.

The purpose of this feature was probably to further enhance the results for their search audience to keep results accessible to anyone. For instance, if you are helping your 8 year old daughter write an article on Ponce De Leon, you want results she can understand. If you are writing a term paper on the effect of alcohol on cognition, you probably want to target advanced results. However, if you want to see how smart your website is, you can use this tool for that as well!

If you own any websites, you probably want to know how smart Google thinks you are. Go ahead and do a Google search for your website with the “annotate results with reading levels” chosen and see how smart Google thinks your site is, and by association, you are. If you want a better look at your entire site, try a search with the function. Better yet, if you have a business site and want to see how intelligent your competition is, try this with their website.

The fun factor aside, as discussed before this tool does have some pretty cool and useful applications. Though this hasn’t been touched upon here but certainly a topic for another blog post is does the reading level of your website have an effect on your sites rankings?


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